tv NBC Nightly News NBC July 11, 2009 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
living history. a huge welcome for president obama in africa and a family visit to what was once a place of no return. family tragedy -- they open their home and hearts to children in need. now the parents of 16 murdered as the family slept. uphill battle -- lance armstrong fighting hill, age and accusation in the race for a comeback. and the invasion -- of lady bugs. if they're really good luck, bugs. if they're really good luck, this town has it made. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
good evening, everyone. president obama is at this hour flying back to the united states after a final stop on his overseas journey that was steeped in symbolism. in ghana, where he was embraced as ason of africa and welcomed amid an outpouring of emotion, the president spoke of a new moment of promise in africa and he challenged african leaders to end corruption and confront the scorches of war and disease. but the defining moment of the trip will be remembered both in ghana and this country as a moment of poetic history in a c chief white house ritten in correspondent chuck todd is in accra, the capital of ghana, he begins our coverage. >> reporter: the president spent less than 24 hours on ghana soil but the trip was not short on emotion. the highlight was the first family's visit to the cape coast castle, one of the most infamous outposts the atlantic slave
trade. >> it reminds us that as bad as history can be, it's also possible to overcome it. >> reporter: mr. obama's roots, the son of a kenyan goat herd are are well known but this is also an important visit for michelle obama whose oldest known relative jim robinson was a slave in south carolina. >> as americans, as and as african-american, obviously, there's a special sense that on the one hand this place was a place of profound sadness. on the other hand, it is here here where the journey of much of the african-american experience began. >> reporter: the obama's visit to the cape coast attracteded thousands, overflowing crowds filled rooftops, peered off window, hung off scaffolding, did anything to catch a glimpse of the american are president, even running down the road,
chasing a motorcade, normally not exposing their daughter ss tv cameras, the couple made an exception. >> it is particularly important for malia and sasha who are grow grohhing up in such a blessed y to be reminded that history can take very gruel turns. >> reporter: the excitement sur under roing the president's visit was evident in every corner of acrra. he hopes to make a connection to encourage african leaders to embrace his vision that was laid out in a lunch time speech to the ghanain parliament. >> we must start with the simple premise that africa's future is up to africa. but the true sign of success is not whether we are a source of perpetual aid that helps people scrape by, it's whether we are partners building the capacity for transformational change is a. >> reporter: towards the end, he
resurrected familiar rhetoric. >> you can conquer disease, make changes, you can do that. yes, you can. >> reporter: this speech was the last of four major international talks including prague, cairo, moscow and here in ghana that together outline his foreign policy goals. many begd the american president to stay longer. as he left, the president who struggled early in life to find a connection to his own father talked about what this trip meant to him as a father. >> i'll never forget the image of my two young daughters, the descendants of africans and african-americans, walking through those doors of no return but then walking back those doors of return. >> reporter: during this overseas trip, the president found his domestic agenda coming under fire. and that may explain why he took a break in italy to record his weekend address and focus it on
a defense of his $787 billion stimulus pack a lester? >> chuck todd, and and nbc's mara sciavocampo takes us inside. >> reporter: we're headed to cape coast to visit a former slave castle. >> we're here. >> yes. >> reporter: europeans built dozens of force up and down the coast for trading and commodity, things like gold and tragically people. millions of enslaved africans passed through for theifications like this, they were kept mere for months wait fog board ships bound for the americas. es. el blankson guide the obamas here today. >> the level of inhumanity attached to this soil, this soil the slaves lived on, it was krugtded around 1792. it was designed for 1,000 people. >> can we turn that off and just
see how dark it really is. >> so that was the only light. >> this was the condition in the dungeon, the hole that provided them with light and ventilation. they lived there for three months. the average age was 13 and 30. >> 13? >> so children as young as 10. were all taken. >> reporter: before being led onto ship, the captives crossed this threshold through the door of no return. >> so through this door, millions of africans have been forced into slavery. >> so this would have been the last view of their country. >> this is the last view of their country in the night. >> sister cheryl and wanda are visiting the castle from houston. >> it almost felt like going into a burial tomb. i almost couldn't breathe. >> reporter: for them, the first family's visit here is extremely gratifying. >> it's like a full circle experience. you know, they were the powerless who left here and the powerful are coming.
it's not justice, but it's amazi amazing. >> reporter: the door of no return, today the portal for an emotional homecoming. mara sciavocampo, nbc news, cape coast, gaughan nanchts president obama's visit to ghana capped off a busy week which includes a summit meeting in russia and the g-8 conference in italy. here to talk about what he hopes to accomplish back here at home, we're joined by john harwood, chief washington correspondent for cnbc. one of the issues that came up in the g-8, there's often promise of african aid and that znt come through. did we witness a new start of a level of american engagement of africa today or just a day of symbolism? >> i think anyone who saw the pride in the president's face were he stood before the ghanan par parliament and said i have the blood of africa in me and saw him bear witness to that shipment point knows he's going
to focus on africa the way no previous american president could. but he also has huge problems at home including a huge budget deficit so the likelihood is you're going see some increase in direct aid financially but more likely exhortation of the kind we heard from him today. the president also said the destiny of africa will be determined by africans. >> i want to ask you about some of those challenges at home, but first, i couldn't help notice the yes, we can line in his speech today. how much is he employing campaign-like tact a ins when he takes these sorts of trips. >> well, those are very relevant. as he goes oversee seas, he doesn't have to ask those foreign audiences for anything difficult like votes in congress for a health care plan. he's extremely popular overseas and and of course we saw in front of the parol 347b9 when a horn sounded as he was introduced, he said i could use one back home in the u.s. capitol. but i think there's a limited utility to exactly how he can translate that popularity into concrete accomplishments which is why he's going to focus so
intensely on health care were he gets back home. >> now there's a surcharge on the rich to raise the billions needed to fund this. is that going to fly? certainly with republicans, but even with democrats, is that a going to be tough? >> it's not going to fly with brubs and it will get skepticism from conservative democrat, the problem right now, lester, is there's a bunch of financing schemes for health care but none of them has majority support. the senate finance committee is divided, the house is also now in the process of coming unwith a package but then you're going to have a house/senate division and difficult negotiation. so i think democrats remain on track for getting something done but we don't know what that final package is going to be and a it's not going to be easy to get. >> john harwood, appreciate your insight. thanks. we turn are to a heart breaking family tragedy in the florida panhandle, the murders of a couple who's compassion for bounds. in need seemed to have nbc's peter alexander on the family and search for the couple's killers. >> authorities say it was a hateful and senseless act. the victims were shot several
times in the bedroom of their large rural home thursday night. the billings were well known and well liked locally. successful business owners and the proud parents of 16 children, 12 of them adopted most with developmental disabilities. they were about to become grandparents for the first time. >> byrd and melanie billings, i believe exemplified what is good and decent in society. they've. prominently mentioned in the local media on numerous occasions for their outreach and humanitarian efforts in assisting children with autism and down syndrome. >> reporter: authorities say eight of the children were in the house at the time of the murders but none was hurt. in fact, police say they had to wake up some of the children after a neighbor called 911. >> i was devastated. i could not believe it. >> reporter: family friend and school bus driver yvonne hahn rushed to the home to console some of the kids. >> matthew told me his mom and
daddy was shot and killed and he didn't have a mom and daddy anymore. and i told him that they would always be there, that he would st look up to heaven if he talk to them, could talk to them like a dwirchgling star. >> reporter: later today, they found an older red van they believed was this one caught on a surveillance camera leaving the home and said they were interviewing two persons of interest and looking for a third n 2005, melanie billings told a local newspaper she and her husband wanted to share their we know with children in need but never imagine ared their family would grow so large. >> they were remarkable for adopting that many children and always being such good parents and always doing things for them to the fullest. >> reporter: days before the murder, melanie billings wrote friend, let your loved ones know just how much you mean to you, you never know what moment may be the last. peter alexander, nbc news, new york. and as a footnote it to that, lesterster, so far no arrests have been made.
the sheriff said the persons of interest are said to be in their late teens or older and the third person of interest in this case is likely still in the area and that neighbors there should remain alert. r that. r: peter, thank you ant in hattiesburg, mississippi, thousands gathered for the funeral of nfl star steve mcnair. the 36-year-old former quarterback was shot last week by his 20-year-old girlfriend who police say then killed herself. mourners recalled mcnair's toughness on the field, his generosity towards teammates and his charity work. the investigation of an historic burr oaks cemetery in suburban chicago continue today as hundreds of distraught families delivered information about missing loved ones. the sheriff has declared all 150 acres of the historic cemetery where four workers are charged with digging up bodies to resell grave sites a crime scene. burr oak is closed until investigators determines full scope of the crimes. in cape canaveral, lightning
strikes forced a scrub of the space shuttle "endeavour." technicians say they haven't seen lightning related damage but are still checking critical systems. the liftoff has been pushed back again until tomorrow. when "nbc nightly news" continues this saturday, an uphill climb for lance armstrong. fig fighting for a comeback but facing some tough new challenges this year. and later, bugging out, the must see invasion in colorado tonight, lady bugs taking over one town. to your dishwasher. because it has the power to pre-wash... dissolve... and rinse the whole mess away. so in the morning your dishes will feel like new again. and so will you. cascade complete all-in-one actionpacs. for money-saving offers, visit theultimatebutton.com. dr. scholl's back pain relief orthotics with shockguard technology give you immediate relief that lasts all day long.
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now to a comeback in american cycling, lance armstrong is in the pack at the tour de france, one of the sports worlds most gruelling competitions, he's definitely still in the race but even she wondering if it will be possible overcome age and a three-we're retirement to clinch a record eighth victory. here's john jiang. >> reporter: the tour de france wound through the pyrenees mountains today, a stretch where lance armstrong dominated his rival, but that was then. today, armstrong failed to gain ground, remaining in third place, still eight sections behind the leader of italy and two seconds behind a spaniard. armstrong acknowledges this year is different. >> i don't have the same confidence i had before. that's normal, i think and natural that after you've been away for four year, but i come with an extreme sense of excitement. and also quite honestly, heck of
a lot of nerves. >> reporter: comment aters saying being along the lead sers a singular achievement. >> no one has ever done what he's doing right now, month one has come back like this at such an age and been so strong and forceful in the race. >> reporter: two months shy of his 38th birthday, armstrong would be the oldest tour de france winner history. the he only ended his three year retirement last september, not a lot of time goat in peak condition for the gruelling three-week, 2,200 mile race. he's already beaten the odds, winning the tour de france a record seven straight times after a painful battle with testicular cancer that spread to his lungs, about do men and brain. he also has a controversial reputation. >> critics say i'm arrogant, do doper. >> reporter: which he addresses head-on in an ad for one of his response, dedz indicating the
race to fellow cancer survivors. >> they can say whatever they em.ot back on my bike for >> reporter: armstrong's return has meant the return of excitement in global interest in the race. every day he's mobbed by reporters. >> our rock star is back and there's just such a crush for everything lance right now that is really, it's made this tour very interesting. >> reporter: he's even winning over french racing fan, group long skeptical of him. >> he's a great champion, the best of the world. >> reporter:. >> i think he's very courageous to come back. >> lance armstrong. >> reporter: all right a win tore many, no matter what the outcome. john yang, nbc nbc news, london. a packed running of the bulls in pamplona, spain, today, a spanish man was gored to death
by a bull that broke away from the pack. 15 people have died in the race since record keeping began in 1924. when we come back, the state of emergency in california tonight broke and handing out ious, how long can it last? will everyone with constipation please report to gate 17? thank you so much. constipation's uncomfortable enough, so why take a harsh laxative? phillips' caplets work naturally with your colon... for overnight relief without cramps. phillips' caplets.
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contact your doctor if you develop unexplained muscle pain or weakness, as this can be a sign of a rare but serious side effect. this risk may be increased when trilipix is used with a statin. if you cannot afford your medication, call 1-866-4-trilipix for more information. trilipix. there's more to cholesterol. get the picture. california, a state with the world's eighth largest economy is deaning because lawmakers can't agree on a way to close $26 billion deficit. the state has been issuing ious bust most banks say they won't honor them what residents can expect next. still butting heads over the budget, republican arnold schwarzenegger met today with
the democrats who run the california legislature as they tried to end the stalemate. >> what's clear now is that all of the parties are motivated, highly motivated to get this done quickly. >> reporter: motivated because california with no money to pay bills is issuing ious to its creditors. >> it means that the eighth largest economy in the world is unable to borrow, is unable to pay its bills and that will have an impact not only on the state economy but on the national economy and on the global economy. >> reporter: the state controller expects he'll have printed $3 billion worth of ious by the end of this monchts we're very concerned about the small businesses, the seniors, the vulnerable populations receiving ious instead of cash. >> reporter: dplor ya freeman runs one of those small business, company called staff u schus usa that provides medical personnel for the state's prison system. to stay afloat, she's had to lay off five people. the remaining 45 a employees are
scared about their future. >> it's been very difficult for all of them. >> especially when a lot of people have worked there for a long time are been played off. >> reporter: she also owns an auction company and says she'll use that to pedal her state ious now that most banks will no longer except them. >> i don't think we'll be able to sell them at face value, we've been offered so far on the ious 10 cents to 95 cents on the dollar. >> she says she and her ploem employees feel like the sailors in this painting she's also auctioning, about to sink in a stormy sea. george lewis, nbc news, los angeles. up next here tonight, they call it lady luck but this is ridiculous. ity... i know that you were just living with it. that was my normal. i thought that was normal. what changed? i saw activia in my mom's fridge, tried it for a couple of weeks. and it's liberating. hummm. announcer: activia is clinically proven to help regulate your digestive system in two weeks when eaten every day. ♪ activia
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finally, it's been said that lady bugs are luck y we8 luck is definitely in the air in colorado this summer. swarms of lady bugs have invaded parts of the state follow iing extra wet spring. chris have ander ven of kusa got a look at this year's extraordinary population explosion. >> lots of privacy. >> even in a neighborhood -- >> we look out for each other. >> reporter: where every neighbor keeps a close eye on any and all visitorses. >> there's not a lot of traffic up here. >> reporter: the 4-year-olds were likely the first. >> lady bugs. >> reporter: to spot them. >> there's one. >> it's just swarms of lady bugs. >> there's lots of them here. >> we have boone trying to convince jack they aren't all females. >> they're moving so fast i can't count them. >> reporter: but because they're now impossible to ignore. >> it's a very unusual event. >> reporter: the new residents have the old residents weshd what will happen once we take our ka many have as to the top of their mountain. >> it will be interesting to see what you find up there.
>> reporter: the higher you go, the more amazing this at the time gets they say, and it is tourist season after all. >> we can take swarms of lady bug, but swarms of people would be a bit much. >> reporter: so we told amateur photographer and full-time computer programmer jonathan. >> i guess they all got together for a big party. >> reporter: we told him this, if we would agree not to disclose this location, would he agree to escort us to the peak? our first stop was this house. >> every place we look. >> reporter: we're only using first names because he and his wife -- >> i can feel them crawling up my leggen side my pants right now. >> i think there's one right here. >> reporter: but this is still a couple of hundred feet from the top. as impressive it is certainly is, jonathan and lanae said let's go up and a couple hundred feet later. >> it's like new york city for lady bugs. >> reporter: we came upon a tree that looks like it has red bark. the only thing is that ain't red bark. >> i don't know what this tree thinks of them, we saw one
earlier mating. maybe they're, you know, in the process of doing hard work. >> that really is covered with lady bugs. >> reporter: how many are here? who knows? but supposedly they bring good luck. >> if you kill a lady bug it will rain the next day. so just walking around up here i think we're guaranteed quite a lot of rain for a while to come. >> reporter: but please remember this. >> we appreciate peace and quiet and i'm sure these lady bugs do, too. >> reporter: a million or so visitors is is about all this neighborhood can handle right now. >> adios. >> reporter: for nbc news, chris vanderveen in colorado. that's "nbc nightly news" for this saturday. i'm lester holt reporting from new york, i'll see you tomorrow morning on "today" then right back here tomorrow evening. morning on "today" then right back here tomorrow evening. good night, everyone. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com